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the vault seed bank

The seeds lying in the deep freeze of the vault include wild and old varieties, many of which are not in general use anymore. And many don’t exist outside of the seed collections they came from. But the genetic diversity contained in the vault could provide the DNA traits needed to develop new strains for whatever challenges the world or a particular region will face in the future.One of the 200,000 varieties of rice within the vault could have the trait needed to adapt rice to higher temperatures, for example, or to find resistance to a new pest or disease. This is particularly important with the challenges of climate change. “Not too many think about crop diversity as being so fundamentally important, but it is. It is almost as important as water and air,” says Haga. “Seeds generally are the basis for everything. Not only what we eat, but what we wear, nature all about us.”

As the siege dragged on, a number of them eventually died from starvation. Despite being surrounded by seeds and plant material, they steadfastly refused to save themselves by eating any of it, such was their conviction about the importance of the seeds to aid Russia’s recovery after war and to help protect the future of humankind. One of the scientists, Dmitri Ivanov, is said to have died surrounded by bags of rice.

Near the entrance to the facility, a rectangular wedge of concrete that juts out starkly against the snowy landscape, the doomsday nickname seems eerily apt. It was precisely for its remoteness that Svalbard was chosen as the location of the vault. “It is away from the places on earth where you have war and terror, everything maybe you are afraid of in other places. It is situated in a safe place,” says Bente Naeverdal, a property manager who oversees the day-to-day operation of the vault.

It would be difficult to find a place more remote than the icy wilderness of Svalbard. It is the farthest north you can fly on a commercial airline, and apart from the nearby town of Longyearbyen, it is a vast white expanse of frozen emptiness.

Woefully underfunded, many lack the resources to properly store or protect the seeds they hold. The Crop Trust is now raising money for an endowment fund to ensure that the world’s 1,700 gene-bank facilities are able to continue acting as guarantors of global biodiversity.

Millions of these tiny brown specks, from more than 930,000 varieties of food crops, are stored in the Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen, part of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. It is essentially a huge safety deposit box, holding the world’s largest collection of agricultural biodiversity. “Inside this building is 13,000 years of agricultural history,” says Brian Lainoff, lead partnerships coordinator of the Crop Trust, which manages the vault, as he hauls open the huge steel door leading inside the mountain.

There are three vaults leading off from the chamber, but only one is currently in use, and its door is covered in a thick layer of ice, hinting at the subzero temperatures inside. In here, the seeds are stored in vacuum-packed silver packets and test tubes in large boxes that are neatly stacked on floor-to-ceiling shelves. They have very little monetary value, but the boxes potentially hold the keys to the future of global food security.

The vault hold the seeds of many tens of thousands of varieties of essential food crops such as beans, wheat and rice. In total, the vault now holds seeds of more than 4000 plant species. These seed samples are duplicates of seed sample stores in national, regional and international gene banks.

Way up north, in the permafrost, 1300 kilometers beyond the Arctic Circle, is the world's largest secure seed storage, opened by the Norwegian Government in February 2008. From all across the globe, crates of seeds are sent here for safe and secure long-term storage in cold and dry rock vaults.

Seeds remain depositors' property

The Seed Bank was established and is fully funded by the Norwegian government, with the responsibility for operations assigned to The Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The Ministry coordinates daily operation with the Nordic Gene Resource Centre and the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and receives guidance from a dedicated international council established to advise the Seed Bank.

03/06/2021: This week, more than 30,000 additional seed bags from five continents were deposited for safe storage in the seed vault on Svalbard. It is the largest seed deposit since the pandemic was confirmed.

Way up north, in the permafrost, 1300 kilometers beyond the Arctic Circle, is the world's largest secure seed storage. A new video produced by the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food tells the story about the Vault.

The Seed Vault will be opened for seed deposits on the following dates in 2021:​ ​Week 7 (15.-18. February)​ Week .

The Norwegian government invites gene banks holding long-term and sustainable seed collections to deposit duplicates of their seed samples in .

Despite the global pandemic, genebanks efforts to secure duplicate seed samples at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are still ongoing. .

In 2020: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault Welcomes Record Number of Depositors

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault facilitates security conservation of seeds, comprising genetic material of importance for food and agriculture.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is carved into a hillside above Longyearbyen airport, 130 meters above sea level.

All gene banks holding sustainable seed collections are invited to deposit duplicates of their seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed .

We offer safe, free and long-term storage of seed duplicates from all genebanks and nations participating in the global community’s .